NBA all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar isn’t a big fan of HBO’s Girls, a “white ghetto” of a show filled with unappealing protagonists (“We’re supposed to find these girls somehow charming because of their flawed characters,” he wrote in February.) But in a new Huffington Post column, Abdul-Jabbar reveals that another group of (mostly) white, self-involved, fatally ignorant televised characters has indeed stolen his heart: The ladies of Bravo’s Real Housewives, a franchise the athlete lauds as “the best social insight into the American psyche since Huck Finn and Jim explored the soul of America on a raft of lost innocence.”
And that’s not even Abdul-Jabbar’s most hyperbolic analogy. Throughout his behemoth of a piece, he also compares Housewives to a “Susan Faludi’s 1991 National Book Award-winning book, Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women,” and “a classic Shakespearean tragedy.” Bravo czar Andy Cohen also gets praised as “the Andy Warhol of the 21st Century.” According to Jabbar, Cohen’s “version of Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans and multi-colored Marilyns are the table-flipping divas and surgically-buoyed breasts he puts ‘on display.’” (For the uninitiated — the last two words of that sentence refer to New Jersey housewife Melissa Gorga’s music single of the same name, which we declared the worst Housewives song yet in 2011.)
Here’s the thing, though: While Abdul-Jabbar does lay it on a little bit too thick, he’s got some good points about why the Housewives are not only entertaining but also important. (One of those reasons: “Rich folk be crazy.”) The franchise obviously strikes a nerve with millions of people, and its intoxicating mixture of glitz, drama, delusion, and pure, unadulterated schadenfreude is certainly worthy of closer study. Abdul-Jabbar is thoughtful, and though the article clocks in at over 2,700 words, it’ll breeze by even for those who think they’re too good to watch or think about reality TV.
We should, however, take his analysis with a grain of salt, considering the fact that — as he points out himself — Abdul-Jabbar also happens to be on a reality show right now. Though don’t worry, he takes pains to note that he’s not one of those formerly famous people who “have slid off the celebrity grid as defined by TMZ and E! and are desperately trying to claw their way up the cold, rocky cliff of obscurity back into the warm public eye.” Nope, certainly not.
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